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Whatever you do... don't feed the plants!

This weekend, New Richmond High School students will perform Howard Ashman's and Alan Menken's hit musical "Little Shop of Horrors," based on the film by Roger Corman, and screenplay by Charles Griflith. Known for catchy songs such as "Suddenly Seymour," "Somewhere That's Green," and the title song, this show has become a stage smash that spoofs its very own beginnings as the 1960 low-budget, sci-fi, horror movie. Little Shop celebrates Motown and doo-wop pop in a story that makes reference to murder, love and botanical genius. Seymour is a sad schmuck who works in a failing flower shop on Skid Row; he's in love with the beautiful Audrey, a co-worker who's dating a semi-sadist. Just as everything's turning to mulch, Seymour's potted plant starts developing a peculiar appetite and the real fun begins.

Walter DeKock as Seymour, evolves from a shy, behind-the-scenes nobody to a love-stricken somebody -- an overnight celebrity sensation.

"He's kind of clutzy, geeky, archetype," DeKock said.

Ellen Junko as Audrey, the shop girl, is the not-so-secret love of Seymour's life who transforms from a pushed around girl with a past to the heroine of the show.

"She's kind of clueless and a ditz," Junko said.

DeKock and Junko said they both love the roles they were given and are looking forward to performing for the first time in the high school's new auditorium.

"I've always loved musicals," Junko said. "Singing and acting... it's a unique thing when it all comes together."

DeKock said he simply loves the performance aspect.

"I like performing and being up on stage," he said. "I'm comfortable up there."

To say the group has been working hard is an understatement.

"We've been rehearsing since school started," said DeKock. "So... early September."

And that's not just once a week.

"We rehearse Monday, Tuesday and Thursday from 6-9 p.m.," he said. "And this week we've been going from 6-10 p.m. and on Saturday we were here for about 11 and a half hours."

DeKock and Junko said they're excited for opening weekend.

"Everyone should come see us," Junko said. "This is going to be exciting because it's the first musical in the new auditorium."

Also involved in the production is River Simpson playing the struggling Mr. Mushnik who loosens up as he oversees the transformation of his down-and-out business -- its inventory consisting of a few dried-out, "fresh-cut" flowers -- into a glitzy boutique brimming with brilliant floral displays. The story line is moved along by singer-dancers Ronnette (Caela Stenske), Chiffon (Chanteal Strand) and Crystal (Hannah Wheeler), with their doo-wop and synchronized moves echoing dance styles of half a century ago.

Jocque Warner as Orin, the sadistic boyfriend of Audrey, is undone by his own drive to inflict pain in others. Ben Johnston delivers the chilling voice of Audrey II. The enormous plant is manipulated and brought to life by Rachel Greaner. Supporting roles are played by: Audrey DeKock, Heidi Germain, Susan Kilian, Gus Franchere, Christina Green, Justin Zeller, Megan Wefel, Alex Wheeler and Marissa Neitzke. Pit-orchestra members include: Ashlie Orr, Adam Gianni, Karah Dadez, Charlie, Kleiner, Sammi Smeed, Zac Postma and Shae Armstrong. Working as stage crew/production team is: Alisha Blackman, Rose Smith, Cody Zobel, Mae McBain, Meredith Jarchow, Ashley Sager, Keagen Van Epren, Bailey Davison, Sydney Zahradka and Jenna Cagle.

Little Shop of Horrors opens Friday, Nov. 11, at 7 p.m., with a second performance Saturday, Nov. 12, at 7 p.m., and a final performance Sunday, Nov. 13, at 2 p.m. All performances will be in the New Richmond High School Auditorium; tickets are $10 general admission. For additional information, please call Andy Schroetter at 715-243-1723.

Jackie Grumish
Jackie Grumish has been a reporter with the New Richmond News since 2008. She holds degrees in journalism and fine art from Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, Ill. Before coming to New Richmond, Jackie worked as the city government reporter at a daily newspaper in Aberdeen, S.D. 
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